The Obama administration today proposed a broad set of rules and definitions to strengthen the federal student aid programs by protecting students from aggressive or misleading recruiting practices, providing consumers with better information about the effectiveness of career college and training programs, and ensuring that only eligible students or programs receive aid.
Formally known as a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM), today's action followed a year-long negotiation between the U.S. Department of Education and the higher education community around 14 specific issues (outlined below). Education Secretary Arne Duncan thanked the higher education community for working with the administration to strengthen student aid programs, adding, "We share a goal of ensuring that all Americans get the education and training needed to find meaningful and rewarding work. Every institution of higher education is our partner in that effort."
Today's notice addresses 13 of the 14 issues in their entirety, and partially addresses the 14th issue, which involves the definition of "gainful employment." To qualify for federal aid, most career college and training programs must show they are preparing students for gainful employment in recognized occupations.
The Department is proposing to require proprietary institutions of higher education and postsecondary vocational institutions to provide prospective students with their programs' graduation and job placement rates, and that colleges provide the Department with information that will allow it to determine student debt levels and incomes after program completion. The Department is still developing metrics to hold programs accountable for preparing their students for gainful employment. We intend to publish a separate NPRM later this summer.
Education Secretary Arne Duncan said: "We have many areas of agreement where we can move forward. But some key issues around gainful employment are complicated and we want to get it right so we will be coming back with that shortly."